The Rediscovered Country from whose Bournes 10 Travellers Return
Actually 11+ met at Chichester station as our youngest ever Clarionette was there with his mum and dad, Joan and TJ – the tiny new arrival, Nye, and what a delight to see them. He had his pram so Joan had no bike, but joined us at Emsworth for lunch and teatime at Chichester Canal’s new shop. Angelica had also taken the train from London, with Rob, Mick and Anne driving and Richard, Roger, Tessa, Julian and David taking various Southern ‘expresses’.
Some of us had been on previous rides out that way and others rediscovered the Bournes from sailing days, but every Clarion ride is different with the changing seasons, weather and company. Weather forecasts had been showing consistently sunny for days but when we awoke the same chilly east wind was blowing and no sun appeared from the white sky, so warm clothes were worn by almost all, David and TJ favouring shorts and Mick zipping off his zip-offs once warmed up and some sympathy expressed for the World Naked Bike Riders back in Brighton.
Roger led us along the South Coast Cycle Path out of the city into the countryside, under and over the railway lines and motorway 3, 4 or more times. The unguarded crossing with gates is being replaced by a bridge where work has now started and finish times were said to be three weeks, though this was greeted with scepticism by a builder working there and certain of our members. After Fishbourne we saw three tiny lapwing chicks on the road with two anxious parents wheeling overhead.
We reached Bosham at what was agreed to be high tide in Brighton, Hove and Shoreham, but apart from a few puddles, were unimpeded by being almost entirely surrounded by water. Having not taken the usual group pic at the station, we paused at Nutbourne Marshes to drink in the peace and take some pics.
A few of us made a brief side-tour to the artillery barracks entrance guarded by a tracked rocket launcher.
Cycling swiftly onto Southbourne warmed me up and I stopped at a crossroads to remove winter garb and bare my arms. Mick then got a phone call, so we both awaited the main group in a lay-by with three fields of shaggy ponies, which looked as if they may be used for pulling traps. There was a large van behind their field plastered with a picture of a camel and the letters CTC. Those camels keep cropping up in the most unexpected places on Clarion rides and beginning to wonder if CTC stands for Camel Touring Company. Maybe they’re preparing for global warming, certainly less polluting than cars and more fun! Here we saw a buzzard being dive-bombed by two crows.
Having been on Roger’s previous ride when we missed Thorney Island, I was delighted that we found it this time, with its charming cottages and peaceful lanes. Back on the road again we arrived at The Ship Inn, Emsworth, for lunch where Joan and Nye awaited us. Food was excellent value and arrived promptly; six veg + 2 sorts of potatoes with the small roasts for £6.75, thick veg soups, and various fishy dishes and fry-ups, as well as several takers for the puddings.
We rode off again along the delightful Lumley Road with a brook running alongside on our left, in front of pretty cottages, until the small waterfall and the elegant blue and white Lumley Mill House and its garden.
Passing through the gates of the house the track became rougher and soon we were on a footpath alongside a large field. It was a narrow path along the field edge parallel to the A27 and seemed very long, a bit too long for some of us, who got lost in its longness. It was quite testing and tough to admire the views as you needed to concentrate on the ground beneath your wheels in order not to be thrown off into the luxuriant barley crop. I was quite relieved that there were still 10 of us, who eventually emerged onto a real road south of Westbourne, with some extra help from Roger. I do remember it from a previous Clarion ride, when I walked and pushed and relaxed more.
After Woodmancote the road undulated with roadside verges bright with spring blossom and trees full of varied birdsong. Julian heard a greater spotted woodpecker and “a little bit of bread and no cheese” sung by a chaffinch. There was hardly any traffic and I was able to spot some irresistible pigs and piglets over the road and stopped to snap them. Rob, acting as backstop, accompanied me and enquired about the tall wooden tower near the pig farm. The owner said it was an experimental radar tower from 2nd World War, which he was trying to turn into a spectacular home, though the planners were objecting. Back on the road Rob wondered why we couldn’t see Chichester Cathedral from this vantage point south of West Ashling, but it must have been because Spring had finally arrived and we were so used to the bare branches of that long winter, though still not sunny.
Warm enough though to enjoy a cup of tea at the new and enlarged Chichester Old Ship Canal Basin tea-shop where Joan and Nye rejoined us. David bought some excellent fair trade cookies which we shared, bringing the trip to a convivial conclusion. Thanks very much to Roger for leading us for about 19 miles to the Bournes and back again. No “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” in guise of punctures, nor “Sea of troubles” by way of high tide at Bosham sweeping in on us, but 11+ wanderers wended our way homeward.
See a video of the ride by Rob http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRkJxve6ZvE